JOHAN ZOFFANY R.A.
Study of an Indian Cow
The artist by whom given to Major General Claude Martin (1735-1800), Lucknow, India, circa 1799
His sale, Tulloh & Co, Calcutta, 18 December, 1800
Purchased by Benjamin Wolff (1760 - 1866) presumably whilst in Calcutta,1817-1829,
Engelholm Manor, Copenhagen and by descent
This exquisitely rendered study of a cow was drawn by Zoffany in 1789 whilst aboard the Grande Duchesse on his passage home from India.
In early January 1789, Zoffany began his journey back to England from Calcutta. His health was already "much impaired", according to a letter dated the 15th February 1789, sent by Gavin Hamilton to Ozias Humphry. He travelled aboard the Grande Duchesse, a French ship sailing under Tuscan colours and destined for Livorno via Cadiz. En route, at St Helena he transferred ships to an East Indiaman, the General Coote. Zoffany arrived back in England on the 16th August, 1789.
Unsubstantiated stories of a shipwreck and cannibalism on the voyage home have proved to be nothing more than apocryphal. However, it does seem likely that Zoffany suffered a stroke aboard either the Grande Duchesse or the General Coote, this story at least can be corroborated by multiple contemporary sources.
Claude Martin in a letter dated the 8th January, 1789 wrote to Charles Townley that 'I will Regret him, but he must quit this Country, he Grows old.'